Our guardianship attorneys provide knowledgeable and experienced assistance in Florida guardianships. We can effectively and efficiently handle any guardianship situation which may arise, including:
- Establishing guardianships
- Filing required annual reports with the courts
- Petitions for permission in various situations
- Terminate a guardianship when it is no longer necessary
- Contest guardianship matters when things don’t go smoothly
Our guardianship attorneys can assist you in establishing guardianships for minors who have received assets due to inheritance or accident settlements. We also handle guardianships of adults who have become incompetent through illness, age, or injury and now need a guardian to manage their financial affairs and make important health decisions on their behalf.
Adults who are competent now but anticipate the need for guardianship in the future, either for themselves or their heirs, are also encouraged to work with us ahead of time to plan for their needs so that guardianship will not be necessary.
What is a Guardian, and How are They Legally Appointed?
A legal guardian is a person with the legal authority and duty to care for the personal and property interests of another person, called a ward. Usually, a person has the status of guardian because the ward is incapable of caring for their interests due to infancy, incapacity, or disability.
Each state has unique guardianship laws allowing parents to determine who will become their child’s legal guardian in the event both parents die. Likewise, a senior can designate ahead of time who will be their guardian in the event of their incapacity. This can prevent family arguments later and provide peace of mind.
In the right circumstances, guardianship of a senior can, and should be, avoided entirely by the use of well-drafted durable powers of attorney and health care surrogate designations (advance directives).
Courts generally have the power to appoint a guardian for an individual in need of special protection or who has no advance directives. A guardian with responsibility for both the personal well-being and the financial interest of the ward is a plenary guardian. A person may also be appointed as a limited guardian, having limited powers over the interests of the ward. A limited guardian may, for example, be given the legal right to make decisions about the ward’s property without being given any authority over their personal or health care needs. A guardian is responsible for making regular reports to the court concerning the actions they take in protecting the ward’s interests. Also, the guardian is required to have an attorney.
Should guardianship proceedings not go as smoothly as described above, our experience includes:
- Handling issues arising from will contests
- Breach of trust
- Elective share disputes
- Guardianship disputes
- Fiduciary conflicts of interest
- Formation, modification, and termination of trusts
- Prudent investor rules
- Accounting controversies
- Fee disputes
- Agency under powers of attorney
- Health care surrogate designations
- Other disputed claims
Our clients include charities, businesses, families, and individuals.
No one guardianship is exactly like another, and our experienced attorneys and staff can guide you through the various steps and duties required. Guardianships are a wilderness, and we are familiar with the terrain.
Please explore our website to learn more about our practice areas in estate planning and elder law, including Medicaid planning, special needs planning, Dementia/Alzheimer’s planning, probate, and trust administration. Please contact us to meet with one of our experienced attorneys.